Thursday, December 3, 2009

Quantum of Solace, the 22nd James Bond film, entertains but from the get-go fails to be an authentic OO7 spy thriller.

The subject here in question is the opening act; the scene responsible for setting the pace and vibe of the action to come; the scene which every Bond fan giddily awaits for its extraordinary stunts and explosions. Quantum of Solace opens with Bond racing his adversaries in his sleek slate-grey Aston Martin DBS, across a narrow highway which crisscrosses the Italian countryside. In his trunk lies villain Mr. White, who Bond is assigned to deliver to the local MI6 station for a debriefing. After seamlessly avoiding various car crashes and dodging a sea of bullets, the unflappable Bond delivers his man to the destination. However, this scene is simply ordinary, it fails to appreciate the difference between sleek action and extraordinary fantastical action.

The opening James Bond scene is supposed to be imaginative, fanciful and remote from reality. This is the case with Pierce Brosnan’s daring speed boat ride through the Thames River in 1999’s The World is Not Enough, where Bond elegantly destroys business establishments along the Thames; and where he gracefully injures every pedestrian in his way. Further back in Bond history is the opening scene of 1967’s You Only Live Twice, where Bond boldly fakes his own murder in Hong Kong in order to evade his impending assassins. Following his murder, Bond arranges a lavish gun salute accompanied navy burial, where his body is thrown oversea and then is picked-up by a Royal Navy submarine which delivers Bond to his next mission. This scene is not only extraordinarily vainglorious, but brilliant! Only OO7 could devise such a fantastical way of deceiving the vast network of enemy spies who are out to get him. Where does the opening scene in Quantum of Solace rank among such distinguished company? Frankly it shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath as its predecessors. The only highlight of this opening scene occurs when Bonds wreaks havoc in the quaint streets of Siena, Italy. But otherwise, this opening scene is dull. All the audience gets is a double O who shows he can drive a fast car past explosions without damaging his finely tailored suit; this script is perhaps suitable for a run of the mill spy movie, but not acceptable for the highly sensitive, aptly critical Bond fans who are nostalgic about the joys given to them in 21 other opening scenes.

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